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Best of 2007
Tim's musical playground

In a year when I've spent most of my record-buying cash on exploring the massive catalogue of Frank Zappa, new albums have tended to take second place. Plus, I'm now involved with managing Hidden Shoal Recordings, an incredible digital record label that would feature heavily in this list if it didn't indicate an obvious, unfair bias...

Despite this, 2007 has been pretty darned good. I'm still impatiently waiting for the new Circulatory System album, but this year has seen amazing new albums by favourites Animal Collective and Deerhoof, a great comeback by Dinosaur Jr, and - shock horror! - a new Radiohead album.

1. Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity (Kill Rock Stars)
This cracker arrived early in the year and has been played to death since. John Dieterich is my new guitar hero, Greg Saunier is Animal the Muppet incarnate, and Satomi is Satomi. Genius.

2. Radiohead - In Rainbows (independent)
Most of the initial fuss may have been over their "pay what you want" download offer, but the real buzz over this album is how effortlessly beautiful it is. "Arpeggi/Weird Fishes" and "All I Need" are among two of my favourite songs of this year.

3. The World On Higher Downs - Land Patterns (Plop)
Like Tortoise on quaaludes, this is ambient music that goes somewhere special, but very slowly indeed.

4. The National - Boxer (Beggars Banquet)
Richly morose and beautifully orchestrated, this album reveals new depths with each listen.

5. Panda Bear - Person Pitch (Paw Tracks)
Like a Beach Boys record skipping, this is probably the most downright lovely album of the year. Repetitive but immersive, drenched in reverb, this is a quintessential bliss-out-on-headphones record.

6. Efterklang - Under Giant Trees EP / Parades (Leaf)
These guys may have been wowing listeners since their debut album Tripper, but I only came upon them this year thanks to Michael Henaghan of Angry Ape. Along with Person Pitch, this album and companion EP sound as close to Circulatory System as I could wish for, all haunting vocal harmonies and intricate instrumentation, bewitching and beautiful.

7. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam (Domino)
While Animal Collective still haven't quite managed to make an album that blows me away all the way through, an Animal Collective album is still an Animal Collective album, a colourful, swirling, giddy opus that always has its fair share of gold. This time round you can't beat 'For Reverend Green' for stomping around the living room yelping like a toddler.

8. Caribou - Andorra (Merge)
Nothing that Dan Snaith has done since Up In Flames has made quite such an impact, but this is further proof that the man can write great songs, can now sing, and makes bloody lovely arrangements out of simple pop confections.

9. Battles - Mirrored (Warp)
I tried not to include Battles on this list, simply because I don't think they're nearly as good as so many people say they are. Yet, the first half of this album is pretty bloody amazing.

10. Dinosaur Jr - Beyond (Fat Possum)
A new Dinosaur Jr album! Makes me feel like I'm 16 again, listening to Where You Been and trying to work out how an electric guitar can sound so huge.

Copyright © 2007 Tim Clarke e-mail address

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